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Wednesday, February 16, 2005; Page A05

Senate Confirms Chertoff As Homeland Security Chief

The Senate confirmed federal judge Michael Chertoff yesterday as the nation's second Homeland Security secretary, placing the tough-on-terrorism former prosecutor in charge of a bureaucracy prone to infighting and turf wars.

Chertoff, 51, has promised to balance protecting the country with preserving civil liberties as head of a sprawling agency that was created as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The 98 to 0 vote came nearly two weeks after Chertoff faced pointed questioning from Democrats about his role in the setting up of the U.S. investigation immediately after the attacks.

Chertoff headed the Justice Department's criminal division when hundreds of foreigners were swept up on minor charges and held for an average of 80 days. Some detainees were denied their right to see a lawyer, were not told of the charges against them, or were physically abused.

At the Feb. 2 hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chertoff defended the investigation strategy but conceded it "had not always been executed perfectly."

Chertoff had previously been confirmed three times -- as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, an assistant attorney general and a U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

Alleging Terrorist Ties, U.S. Freezes Kuwaiti's Assets

The Bush administration moved to freeze the finances of a Kuwaiti man it says is an al Qaeda leader providing financial support to insurgents in Iraq.

The Treasury Department's action against the man it identified as Muhsin al-Fadhli means that any bank accounts or financial assets belonging to him that are found in the United States are blocked. The U.S. government is also asking the member countries of the United Nations to freeze al-Fadhli's assets.

The administration contends that al-Fadhli provided financial and material support to terrorist networks run by Abu Musab Zarqawi, al Qaeda's top operative in Iraq. "In an effort to solidify the support of key financial backers sponsoring attacks, al-Fadhli requested that tapes be made showing evidence of successful attacks in Iraq," the department said.

It is the second U.S. designation in the past few weeks related to the alleged bankrolling of insurgents in Iraq. In late January, the department took action against Sulayman Khalid Darwish, a Syrian man believed to be providing support to al-Zarqawi's terrorism network.

Indian-Casino Bet Pays Off For Formerly Poor Tribes

Indian tribes took a gamble on the casino business, and it is paying off. Tribes that were mired in poverty 10 or 20 years ago are enjoying newfound prosperity as Indian casino revenue far outpaces the take of Nevada's gambling industry.

Indian gambling pulled in $18.5 billion in 2004, a report says, a 10 percent increase that extended more than a decade of double-digit growth for the nation's Indian casinos.

-- From News Services

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